It seems like the time of Covid-19 has been characterised by mixed messages. It can’t be killed by hand sanitiser (it can). We won’t be shutting things down (we will). Herd immunity. Social distancing. Self-isolation. I won’t comment on any of that, because I’m not an epidemiologist, psychologist, sociologist, or generally the right kind of biologist to be expressing an opinion.
It is a little disappointing that the news from the world of zoology has been equally confusing.
Without the traffic of ships and ferries, dolphins have reappeared.
Sardinia, Italy pic.twitter.com/DGjLRwP8sI
— Buitengebieden 2 (@BuitengebiedenB) March 17, 2020
After my brief stint working at Bristol Aquarium, I didn’t think I’d ever willingly step into an aquarium during the February half term again. But somehow, earlier this month, I found myself doing just that, all in the name of coral reef conservation.
Passive acoustic monitoring (PAM) involves detecting and studying animals using the sounds they make. Its use is widespread for cetaceans since they are highly vocal, and are often below the surface. Using sound allows us to detect them even when we cannot see them.
Part of my Masters research project is going to involve using acoustic detections of harbour porpoises. Since I’ve never done any PAM work before this is pretty daunting! On the advice of my supervisor, I decided to attend Seiche Training’s PAM Level 1 course last week in order to get to grips with PAMGuard, one of the most widely used PAM softwares.
Last week I attended the UK and Ireland Regional Student Chapter of the Society of Marine Mammology’s 2020 conference (UKIRSC20). Okay, so it’s not the catchiest acronym, but it was a good time!
As we approach 2020, I’m sure we’re all reflecting on a lot of things. Since over the past decade I’ve gone from being 14 to 24, it’s hardly surprising that most notable moments of my life to date have been in the 2010s.
Wildlife encounters are no exception. In the past ten years I’ve completed a Zoology degree, started a Marine Biology masters, travelled, learned to scuba dive, and generally spent a lot of time looking for animals – here’s what I’ve found! (In no particular order):
I’ve just come to the end of the field week for my MRes Marine Biology course in Plymouth, and I think it’s safe to say it’ll be a contender for best week of the course!
Almost a year after completing the ORCA Marine Mammal Surveyor course, yesterday I was able to volunteer on my first survey, ‘looking out for whales and dolphins’ on the Brittany Ferries route between Plymouth, UK, and Roscoff, France.
Over the past few weeks my experience as an ecologist has definitely diversified, with the newt season sadly over. Gaining a wider range of experience is definitely a positive thing, although I do miss the newt surveys and they remain among the most fun ones I’ve done so far.
So far my job as an ecological surveyor for the summer has solely involved monitoring of greater crested newts (GCNs), otherwise known as stumbling around ponds in the dark.
My dad says I should write a blog post about how many jobs I’ve had in the past six months, and he’s certainly had worse ideas – so here is a snapshot of six months in the working life of a zoologish (warning: does not contain much zoology).